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March 8, 2011 > Collaboration is key

Collaboration is key

By Simon Wong
Photo by William Marshak

The Toyota USA Foundation recently awarded grants to five local non-profit organizations to further the assistance they provide to their clients. Abode Services received $40,000; Fremont Education Foundation, $129,000; Fremont Family Resource Center, $100,000; Ohlone College, $5,000; and Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE), $50,000.

The Fremont Community Luncheon, hosted by Toyota, Fremont Bank, the City of Fremont and Alameda County at Fremont Main Library, emphasized the need for the community to unite. The idea of a "safety net" is always important, especially in bad times. This does not apply just to clients of non-profits. Typically, during an economic downturn, non-profit entities often need help with funding. Fremont Education Foundation and Ohlone College aim to equip the young with some of the building blocks necessary to become responsible citizens who can contribute positively to their communities in the future. Collaboration between local entities - business, government, non-profits, individuals - is essential to prevent social loss.

"Toyota Motor Corporation and Fremont Bank are examples of great corporate citizens," said Scott Haggerty, Alameda County Supervisor, District 1. "Local government is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the necessary funding levels to provide safety net services, which is why we're so pleased to have corporate community partners like Toyota and Fremont Bank."

Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman stressed the importance of delivering services as needs arise otherwise the safety net fails. Newark Mayor David Smith described a "world of partnerships in which municipalities work with county governments and business communities" and acknowledged the efforts of the many volunteers upon whom non-profit organizations rely to deliver invaluable services.

Toyota recognized the philanthropic gap when NUMMI closed in 2010. These grants provide transitional funding to help soften the blow to the five non-profits which were previously funded by NUMMI.

"Whether it's providing healthcare to the homeless, educating the next generation of mathematicians and scientists, providing counseling to troubled families or giving men and women an alternative to violence, each of these non-profits has a meaningful, positive impact in the Fremont-Newark area, the Bay Area and society in general," said Patricia Pineda, Group Vice President, Toyota. "We support their critical work because we understand they can't do it alone. That's why the support of local businesses for these, and other, non-profits is so important. Toyota believes that helping people improve the quality of life in their communities is an essential corporate responsibility.

"Fremont Bank has a long history of supporting these five non-profits and many other causes in the Bay Area. Brian Hughes and Fremont Bank serve as fine examples to other local corporations and businesses," she added.

Morris Hyman, who founded Fremont Bank in 1964, established the Fremont Bank Foundation in 1995 with an initial investment of $20,000. Today, the Foundation receives a percentage of the Bank's pre-tax income. The first grant was for $1,000 for a shed in which to store children's toys. The largest contribution has been $1.5M to Washington Hospital's Critical Care Pavilion. The Foundation uses grants to invest in the future of its communities. Getting to know the people who manage the non-profit organizations and how they operate is fundamental to the Foundation's grant-making strategy. In 2010, the Foundation invested $700,000 in the community.

"Our staff members, or associates, are our representatives; they volunteer their time with non-profits and some sit on the boards of directors. Our Fremont Bank Team Heroes roll up their sleeves and help paint, landscape, plant trees... where a project needs an extra pair of hands. The Bank's motto is 'Success through Partnership.' Without such collaboration, we wouldn't be where we are, today. I encourage people to volunteer a little of their time with a local non-profit and see their investment and the great work these agencies do. They may even learn something from the agencies," explained Brian Hughes, Non-profit Relationship Manager, Fremont Bank.

Abode Services will use the Toyota Foundation grant to plug funding gaps in two of its programs whose quality and continuation were at-risk. Fremont Education Foundation plans to obtain the materials required to deliver new and innovative mathematics programs for K-6 and junior high school students and can now save American High School's engineering program and Kennedy High School's biotech program. The Fremont Family Resource Center will be able to forge closer links with the NUMMI Re-employment Center and provide support services to former NUMMI workers, their families and others, in southern Alameda County, impacted by the recession. Ohlone College will fund scholarships. SAVE will continue its support of victims of domestic violence which increases when unemployment rises.

"I'd like to thank Fremont Bank Foundation and the Toyota USA Foundation for their continued participation in the Fremont community during these difficult times. Toyota did not walk away once it no longer had a presence here. Instead, Toyota treated us like family and provided support when we most needed it," said SAVE Board President Ruth Traylor, appreciatively.

In partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy, Toyota is also funding the "Wonderopolis Family Challenge: Fremont Edition" which will launch this summer. Wonderopolis is a six-week learning experience that challenges Fremont families to explore local landmarks, parks, neighborhoods and other attractions and develop their senses of discovery, creativity, learning and imagination. Participating families will be eligible to win an all-expenses paid vacation to Washington DC. For more information about the Fremont Edition or how to partner as a community organization, contact Laura Westberg at at the National Center for Family Literacy.

For more information, visit:

Abode Services

Fremont Education Foundation

Fremont Family Resource Center

Ohlone College

Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE)

Wonderopolis Family Challenge

Fremont Bank Foundation

Toyota USA Foundation

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